Real Estate Q&A
About two months ago, my dad passed away and my brother and I are in the process of trying to figure out what to do with the house and all his belongings, as we are finally in the frame of mind to go through everything. We know we are going to sell his house, but the question is, should we leave all his furniture in it or pull everything out? Most of his furniture and decor are old and not in very good condition, as he lived alone and has been using the same furniture for the better part of 25 years. My brother thinks we should leave all the furniture in it, because a couple of his friends told him that it would show better furnished. I want to get rid of everything and show it as a vacant home. Can you provide some clarity on which way we should go? I always enjoy reading your advice.
— Sherri, Grand Junction
Sorry to hear about your loss. I know it is an emotionally draining process to weed through the belongings of a loved one who has passed. You did not ask, but I think it is perfect that you have waited a few months to get a clear head and hopefully you are emotionally ready to take on the task of going through his belongings, as the emotions can be raw and time can be such a wonderful healer!
From what you have described in your question, it is hard to provide a totally informed answer, but I will give it a try. I would first recommend that you discuss your options with your real estate agent, as they should be able to offer some good ideas after seeing his existing decor. Keep in mind an opinion of decor that is not in good condition, can be relative. What I mean is, just because you would not have it in your home or do not appreciate it, does not mean that the average buyer in his homes price range will see it the same way. Are the furnishings in line with the homes price range and the buyers expectations in that price range? Also, does the furniture drag down the overall feel and quality of the home’s interior? After you assess these questions, you can start to make your decision. Many times the elderly have stuff everywhere. It is not, necessarily, that they are pack rats, but that it is more difficult to put things away and they have a hard time getting rid of non-essential items, thus things start piling up. I feel very confident that I can recommend a whole home cleaning and de-cluttering session to get things started and then move on to the furniture, because after you de-clutter and clean things may take on a whole new look and feel.
I completely understand why your brother’s friends say “it will show better with the furniture in it.” I also watch HGTV and it is rare that you hear a home shows better empty than furnished, but it does happen. I see it with some regularity; some homes would show better without the owners furniture than with it. Listen, it is like clothes, sometimes the style just does not work with the person and furnishings can be the same way — they just don’t fit with the house. More often than not, your brother’s friends are right on, homes generally show better with furniture as it allows people to “see” how rooms set up, feel and live. Two other advantages of furniture are, it typically makes a home feel warmer and keep in mind that empty homes may be interpreted by buyers that the seller is “extra” motivated, which may encourage lower offers.
My suggestion is to get some outside advice from your real estate agent and have an open and honest conversation about your options and which one will help bring the highest value or help it sell quickest, which ever is your main objective. You can get a professional stager or someone with some home decorating experience to come in and re-arrange the furniture he does have, as I have seen this have a dramatic effect on the overall feel and appearance of a home. You have many options, but consider all these questions and angles as you make progress and the solution will come clear. Hope this helps and I bet if you clean, de-clutter and re-arrange it will present in a different and better light.
The Kimbrough Team
RE/MAX 4000, Inc